Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Books I Didn't Get To

It's every avid reader's lament: so many books... so little time. I read so many truly wonderful books this year, but didn't get to everything I might have liked. The following are just a few of the books that came out in 2011 which I would have loved to have read but didn't.

The Magician King, Lev Grossman, Viking Books, 2011
Many of my fellow bloggers disliked this book (and its predecessor, The Magicians) intensely. Intensely! Oh, the tweets! And I don't actually blame them. I don't know how to properly describe my feelings for The Magicians, except that I was enchanted and completely transported by the story and could not put it down, no matter how aggravated I grew with the characters and no matter how bleak and depressing the ending. I expect nothing less from its sequel The Magician King, and can't wait to read it.

Started Early, Took My Dog, Kate Atkinson, Reagan Arthur Books, 2011
I love, love, love Kate Atkinson's books- they are a delightful combination of mystery-meets-literary fiction, and I just adore detective Jackson Brodie. I do. (Her non-Jackson Brodie fiction is wonderful as well, by the way- Behind the Scenes at The Museum was an excellent read.)

Swamplandia, Karen Russell, Vintage Books, 2011
Swamps, and alligators, and ghosts - oh my! Confession: I didn't get very far with St. Lucy's School for Girls when it came out, but very much enjoyed the story about a family running an alligator wrestling theme park that grew into this novel.

Zazen, Vanessa Vaselka, Red Lemonade, 2011
Zazen, a novel with a post-apocalyptic type setting from Vanessa Vaselka and the innovative publisher Red Lemonade, was one of the very hot indie press reads of this year. Zazen would ordinarily not be my kind of story at all... except that I have heard so many rave reviews from other readers whose opinions I value. Would love to give it a try.

The list goes on and on (you can see more on my shelf at Goodreads), and does not include the books coming out just now (such as The Artist of Disappearance, by Anita Desai.). Books I'm looking forward to in 2012 will be another blog post entirely...

What are some of the books you hoped to read this year, but didn't get to? Please share in the comments!

*(In some circles of people, such as those who live with me here in my house, dear husband and children, this list might be otherwise known as...My Holiday Wish List.)


  1. Tale of Genji (I'm hundreds of years behind).

  2. I loathed the Magician books. Do you have The Magician King? I do and it's yours if you want it!

    My wished-I-read TBR is pretty huge, but some of the review copies I got this year that I wanted to read by likely wont include Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward, The Daughter of Siena by Marina Fiorato, and Let's Kill Uncle by Rohan O'Grady (which might be a cheat since it's originally from, like, the '60s but was just reissued). I'm going to read the Sisters Brothers before 2012, though!

  3. J.A. - wow, very cool book to have on your TBR... if you get to it you will have to tell us about it! Audra, LOL, I know. Everyone seemed to loathe it... but still I won't be convinced until I give it a try. Your others sound really interesting! Hope you enjoy the Sisters Brothers.

  4. Despite my hate, I'm pretty sure I'll read the third book in the series too. Sort of compulsively readable in that way. Which makes me so angry and bitter!!! :)

  5. Too funny!!!! I don't have it, thank you would love it! er, if that is the right word ;D.

  6. There are so many. I wanted to read the Kid by Sapphire soooo bad, but then everyone I spoke to said it was awful and the reviews said the same thing, so I passed with a sad face. I will read it eventually, but I'm not in as much of a hurry as I was before. :-(

  7. I never hope to read anything within a certain time-frame. I'm terrible at planning my reading, so basically things happen in their own, random ways. It's not always easy, but I'm also lucky: I never find myself disappointed that I didn't "get to it on time"...

  8. Biblibio, like you I tend to go with the flow (or whatever arrives first in the mail), but then I miss a few (like these) that really won't be "timely" for blog purposes in 2012, if that matters. Does it matter? Lena, I hope you get to read it anyway- also heard mixed things, but sometimes books are well worth reading even when they aren't perfect. Sometimes especially when they aren't perfect. Would be interested to hear your thoughts on it!

  9. Great compilation, Jennifer! This post is really tempting me to make my own 'Books of 2011 I Couldn't Get To' list. The Kate Atkinson on yours would definitely be there, as well as the Anita Desai you mentioned in your footnote...but perhaps at the top of the list would be A.S. Byatt's 'Ragnarok: The End of the Gods'. Byatt is among my best-beloved writers; have you read any of her works?

  10. so so many books...i think the big one i want to read but won't get to this year is The Marriage Plot. I haven't read the Magicians, so I'm not sure if it's fair for me to give The Magician King a mention - but I had planned to read both of them this year, read just a few pages of The Magicians, and switched over to something else. The reactions to these books are so wide-ranging that I think I have to read them to see for myself what all the love/hatred is about...but just from that brief visit to the first book in the series, I wanted to slap a few of the characters for being such teenaged downers.

  11. Shivanee, great picks... Byatt on the "been meaning to read forever but still haven't" list, do you have a favorite to recommend? Ellen, lol, I know what you mean... love to hear your thoughts on any/all of them when you get to them.

  12. Oh my gosh - not sure if you know my feelings for The Magician and The Magician King, but Wow. Yet I also had to keep reading compulsively.

    I try not to have "planned" reading. I'm like a little kid. Tell me to do something, and I fight against it. But I have two whole shelves with unread books...

  13. LOL, picky, I do!!! - I remember your fantastic review of The Magicians! agreed with everything you said, and yet....

    any on the shelf you wish you'd gotten to sooner? or in the end is it telling that other reads took precedent?


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